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by Sharon Rondeau
(Apr. 29, 2014) — On Tuesday morning, The Post & Email contacted the media office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to inquire about the case of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier, who is being held by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) in a residential group home rather than being returned to her family in Connecticut.
Coakley’s office states that “promoting transparency and open government” is one of its main goals.
The person in the media center, Grant, said he was not familiar with the case when we asked whether or not the attorney general was involved in scrutinizing the actions of DCF. We then informed Grant that the story has made national and international headlines for the past several months.
We explained that when Justina was taken by her parents in February of last year to Boston Children’s Hospital to seek treatment from complications from the flu, two doctors there declared Justina to be suffering from somatoform disorder rather than mitochondrial disease, with which she had been diagnosed and treated by doctors at Tufts Medical Center. When the parents disagreed with the Children’s Hospital diagnosis, the doctors contacted DCF and reported that the parents were guilty of “medical child abuse.” Justina was placed in a psychiatric wing and forbidden visits with her family except for one hour each week with armed guards present.
Lou Pelletier, Justina’s father, is certain that his daughter has been used as a “medical guinea pig” since she became a ward of the state. The Pelletiers have received notes secretly sent home from their daughter indicating that she has been physically and emotionally abused while in the custody of Massachusetts DCF.
Despite a “record” of alleged abuse on the part of Justina’s parents, no such “record” has been produced by DCF in either Connecticut, where Justina’s family lives, or in Massachusetts.
On Saturday, Mike Huckabee of the Fox News Channel conducted an interview with the Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition and Atty. Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and now representing the Pelletier family. Huckabee began covering the story aggressively earlier this year. Huckabee has a place for comments from his audience about his weekly show here.
Mahoney reported that he had met with the director of the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services for 70 minutes in what he described as a “positive” encounter. Staver stated that he has filed a habeas corpus petition and will be filing state and federal civil rights violations lawsuits on Justina’s behalf. He has also appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court on the March custody ruling which placed Justina under DCF’s care until she turns 18.
DCF falls under the Health and Human Services Department in the commonwealth.
Staver confirmed that Justina has received no education, is barred from attending religious services or speaking with a priest, and is still heavily-guarded when visiting with her parents or sisters. She is currently residing at a Wayside Youth and Family Support Network institution in Framingham, MA.
On his latest show, Huckabee indicated that a criminal cover-up has been perpetrated by Massachusetts DCF, and on April 5, Staver announced that his organization had contacted the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office about Justina’s “kidnapping.”
Also on Tuesday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced that DCF Commissioner Olga Roche has resigned as a result of the deaths of three children known to DCF. Former Registry of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Erin Deveney has been appointed Interim Commissioner of the agency.
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As shared by Mahoney on Huckabee’s Saturday program, Mahoney confronted Patrick about Justina’s case, to which Patrick retorted that “the court” has jurisdiction, not him. Patrick reportedly repeated DCF’s assertions that Justina had “neglected” her, then said that “‘We’ve appeared in court in order to have her sent home in Connecticut.”
Since Boston Children’s Hospital doctors removed Justina from the medications she was taking for mitochondrial disease, her health has declined rapidly and her father fears that she is dying.
Twitter activists under the hashtag #FreeJustina continue to urge others to call Patrick’s office to demand Justina’s release to her family.
“Fourteen months in your state, and she wasn’t allowed to go to church for 14 months,” Mahoney said to Patrick. “Let’s see the reunification plan…and let’s get her home.” Mahoney pointed out that Patrick’s statements have said that Massachusetts intends to return Justina “to Connecticut,” but not specifically to her family.
Patrick also mentioned the case of five-year-old Jeremiah Oliver, whose body was found along a highway on Good Friday after the child had been under DCF care but then disappeared.
Patrick told Mahoney that he would meet with Mahoney “without a camera” rolling.
The Post & Email has contacted Huckabee about the case of the Hendersons, whose eight children were taken by Los Angeles DCFS and are now reportedly being adopted by various parties under questionable circumstances.
April was designated Child Abuse Prevention Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.
Grant advised us before concluding the call that the attorney general’s office cannot confirm or deny any investigation which might be taking place. The Post & Email suggested that any evidence of criminality be turned over to a grand jury so that “the people” can decide who, if anyone, should be prosecuted in the Pelletier case.
Radio show host Michael Graham has also suggested that a crime might have been committed on the part of DCF against Justina and her family.
The website “Legally Kidnapped” provides links to hundreds of stories over the last several years wherein children have been abused or killed, many in foster homes under the jurisdiction of child welfare agencies.
Staver has established a campaign by which “Get Well” cards can be sent to Justina. A campaign whereby concerned citizens have brought stuffed animals to the steps of the Massachusetts statehouse prior to a 12:30 p.m. press conference to support “pending legislation” which could return Justina to her family is under way.
Another hashtag, Justice for Justina, is trending heavily as of 1:30 p.m. EDT.